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Old 05-02-2013, 04:18 PM
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Paige Paige is offline
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Default Service dogs

Who has one? What does it do for you? Do you know someone with one? Have you trained one? Were they procided by an agency or were they self trained? Talk to me about it.

Through this diagnosis process with Briggs to find out if he is on the autism spectrum I have done so much reading. Something that came up was an assistance dog.

My biggest issue with Briggs is he bolts. He nearly got ran over by a tractor the other day because I was holding his brother and he ran away from me. Bandit has learned a nifty little command of "GO GET YOUR KID" and he runs after Briggs, grabs his sweater sleeve and does a sliding stop keeping a firm grip on Briggs' coat and stopping them both. He also cuts him off and bumps him back over to me. The joys of owning a herding breed who hates his family unit split up.

Anyways, Bandit is by no means cut out for service work. He is jumpy, skittish, going blind and a little senile. I was just curious what other people's experiences with service dogs were. I am so nervous leaving Briggs at all because of his bolting. Seems to be the most common reason autistic children get service dogs.

Talk to me about this chazzers.
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Old 05-02-2013, 04:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paige View Post
Who has one? What does it do for you? Do you know someone with one? Have you trained one? Were they procided by an agency or were they self trained? Talk to me about it.

Through this diagnosis process with Briggs to find out if he is on the autism spectrum I have done so much reading. Something that came up was an assistance dog.

My biggest issue with Briggs is he bolts. He nearly got ran over by a tractor the other day because I was holding his brother and he ran away from me. Bandit has learned a nifty little command of "GO GET YOUR KID" and he runs after Briggs, grabs his sweater sleeve and does a sliding stop keeping a firm grip on Briggs' coat and stopping them both. He also cuts him off and bumps him back over to me. The joys of owning a herding breed who hates his family unit split up.

Anyways, Bandit is by no means cut out for service work. He is jumpy, skittish, going blind and a little senile. I was just curious what other people's experiences with service dogs were. I am so nervous leaving Briggs at all because of his bolting. Seems to be the most common reason autistic children get service dogs.

Talk to me about this chazzers.
I have an in-training one, hope it's ok that I chime in!
Merlin is in the training process now, I chose to NOT go through a training school (the wait was just as long as training myself and I wanted something more..personalized. My needs are weird, I live in a weird city, I wanted something more suited. if that makes sense, plus I had never had a puppy, and since Merlin is likely going to be my only dog for a while, I wanted the puppy experience)

My first step was finding a trainer willing to help me, I found an independent trainer with experience and we had a discussion about what I wanted to train, regular private lessons and enrollment in his group and his curriculum.
(Here is a thread with the curriculum: http://www.chazhound.com/forums/showthread.php?t=133074)
Merlin attends private focused training as well as "basic dog training" with a regular trainer/group classes. I think it's a nice balance.

One of the first steps with the trainer was writing two lists. One of behavioral/general manners Merlin needed (basic things: leash walking, laying down while I'm in class, how to ride the train, etc..)
and the other were commands I needed him to know (from basic obedience to how to wake me up from a seizure, how to get my meds, how to stay with me etc..)
Merlin is in step 3 now (pre-teen basics)

Then finding a breeder. I didn't choose a "breed" really, I mean, I had an idea.. but I found the right breeder more-so. Health was my top priority, followed closely by dogs that knew how to work/perform and had the right temperament (obedience, showing, any sport really that involves handler orientation and focus and drive) and where temperament where PARAMOUNT. Behind health and temperament, there were some other factors but really, those were the two most importance. With of course finding a breeder I trusted enough to work with me on what to look for, what I wanted etc..

These days, Merlin is well on his way. He is more than I could've asked for.
I mean, he is a brat training wise sometimes when it comes to manners (9 months old and just..ugh)
but he has started alerting to my seizures pretty regularly (which is AMAZING and totally unexpected) and many may disagree, but I do think a huge part of that is that I raised him and I guess that made it easier for him to pick out whatever he picked up on.

The thing about owner training is that of course, nothing is a sure thing. Especially with a puppy. I am still not sure Merlin will grow up to be a service dog, I don't know how his temperament/training could go, even with how great he is now. And that can be a bit nerve wrecking because I am not in the position to get another dog.

What Merlin (will) do:
- Alert to my seizures (not that you can train that but he already does that already, we just need to work on how he alerts, barking is NOT appropriate)
- Lick my hands to get me to wake up from a seizure
- Sit next to me closely so I can hold him while I get my sense of balance back (he is not a balance dog, but more of a stable thing to touch so I feel less dizzy)
- Get my medication and a water bottle and my phone (which will be in my backpack using a tab he can open)
- Stay with me when I'm unconscious
-if I am down for longer than usual, we are thinking perhaps to teach him to bark (because the sound would also help wake me up but also to get attention from people) but that isn't a sure thing
- And of course the basics.. come with my wherever I go.
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Old 05-02-2013, 05:37 PM
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The best thing for the vast majority of people is to find one through an agency. Typically they are free, though some places have a long wait-list.

The reason this is the better route is because it is incredibly hard to find a dog whose personality is suited to service dog work. The dog has to be just right in everything, and the agencies who train those dogs have a high rate of failure- even when picking the best of the best bred and rescue dogs.

So it's not something anyone can just go around trying to find a good dog for it, without experience.

I trained my dog, Priscilla, who passed away before she was old enough to be a Service Dog. It was a lot of work, hours of work most days. And she was from breeding lines that made her a great candidate for being a SD, but wasn't quite there even after a year of training.

I hope that helps. I should note, that I am deaf, I trained her to suit my purposes, I have absolutely not a clue what an SD trained for Aspergers would require. I know there are a couple members with that disorder here and have service dogs, they would be of much better help than I.

That said, you should be aware of the significant downsides to having a SD. There are inevitable harassment issues by business owners and people around you. There are maintenance issues, since you would need to keep your dog clean more frequently than everyone else's dog... since everyone else's dog won't be in public areas where hair and grooming is an issue.

It's more work. Some people find the disadvantages of having a Service Dog outweight the advantages, even if the advantages are significant. It's not a decision to enter into simply. Dogs, even service dogs, will have off days, and that can be frustrating and life-interfering.

It can also be more expensive than other options, as it is an living thing who will have issues all living things do (sickness, injury, etc).

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-02-2013, 05:58 PM
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http://www.dogguides.com/autism.html

You can start looking through the link above. Our kennel club sponsors a couple assistance dogs in our area, a couple guide dogs for the blind and an autism dog. I believe they provide assistance affording one for people who can't.
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Old 05-02-2013, 06:10 PM
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I have one. Em is trained to mitigate symptoms of my PTSD, Schizophrenia, and Tourette's. I trained her myself, and now train for other people.

Not many programs are free, and most programs are absolutely horrible. If you do not train yourself... tread with caution.
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Old 05-02-2013, 06:51 PM
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Interesting! Thanks for the replies so far. I don't even know if Briggs would be a good fit for one as he is still so young (two and a half). Just on my simple google search it came up and I was like oh, thats interesting.
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Old 05-02-2013, 07:19 PM
Saeleofu Saeleofu is offline
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First off, WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT TIE YOUR CHILD TO A DOG. EVER. This is NOT what a service dog is for. It's not good for the child, and it's not good for the dog. If you need your child leashed, then leash the child and hold the leash yourself, don't make a dog do it. Please, please, PLEASE do not ever tether a child to a dog!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Paige View Post
Who has one?
I do


Quote:
What does it do for you?
Logan is my autism service dog. His primary tasks are guide work and mobility/balance/counterbalance work. He also signals me to certain stims (NOT interrupting them, just letting me know they're happening), finds bathrooms/car/home/entrances/exits/class/etc, and a variety of other smaller tasks. I'll go into more detail if you're curious


Quote:
Do you know someone with one?
Several people, most of them I know online, though.


Quote:
Have you trained one?
Yes, I trained Logan. It took just over 2 years, which is typical. I have trained dogs before, and had the support of 2 other trainers, both who have trained service dogs and other working dogs in the past.


Quote:
Were they provided by an agency or were they self trained?
Logan is owner-trained (NOT self-trained; a dog does not train itself). Why? Because there were no programs at the time willing to train an autism dog for an adult, since adults actually require tasks and not just an anchor/babysitter. I have since found a couple potential programs, but hopefully it'll be a LONG time before a need another dog! Anyway, every single autism program I contacted said no because I was "too old" (as if autism just goes away, HA!). Every non-autism program said no because they don't deal with autism - even though the tasks I need/use are the same as for several other disabilities.



Quote:
Through this diagnosis process with Briggs to find out if he is on the autism spectrum I have done so much reading. Something that came up was an assistance dog.

My biggest issue with Briggs is he bolts. He nearly got ran over by a tractor the other day because I was holding his brother and he ran away from me. Bandit has learned a nifty little command of "GO GET YOUR KID" and he runs after Briggs, grabs his sweater sleeve and does a sliding stop keeping a firm grip on Briggs' coat and stopping them both. He also cuts him off and bumps him back over to me. The joys of owning a herding breed who hates his family unit split up.

Anyways, Bandit is by no means cut out for service work. He is jumpy, skittish, going blind and a little senile. I was just curious what other people's experiences with service dogs were. I am so nervous leaving Briggs at all because of his bolting. Seems to be the most common reason autistic children get service dogs.

Talk to me about this chazzers.
How old is Briggs? Service dogs can be properly used with older children (10+, the older the better). A young child does not need a service dog - that's what parents are for (or in school, the staff). A service dog is NOT an excuse to not parent. Tasks are to help the CHILD be more independent, not to make life easier for the parent. Remember if they're too young, they don't even get a choice.

ETA: I see you just said he's 2 1/2. That is entirely too young for a service dog, period.

If you find a program you're thinking about applying to, I'd be more than happy to check it out and tell you what I think. More places have popped up since I was searching, and I haven't kept up with them all.

I don't go there anymore, but servicedogcentral.org is a fantastic resource. There are just certain people to avoid.
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Old 05-02-2013, 07:58 PM
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Yeah at 2 and a half or even older than that it doesn't even make sense to me. Honestly Bandit does enough help on our park trips just being our pet. I was more thinking of him when he naturally grows into wanting more independence.


Tethering Briggs to anyhting sounds like a bad idea.
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Old 05-03-2013, 10:22 AM
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I think that (obviously, especially when developmental delays are a factor, it can vary a lot) for most children who could benefit from a service dog, middle school age is an appropriate time to start looking into a service dog - talking to doctors, looking into programs and trainers, discussing what responsibilities come with being a SD handler. But I think even a non-developmentally delayed high schooler's readiness to handle a SD is questionable...certainly some kids are responsible enough, and some aren't (same goes for adults too, really).

Here's a pretty good article: http://servicedogcentral.org/content/node/259

I think at this point, instead of even thinking about service dogs, if you think Bandit might soon be unable to handle his current "responsibilities", thinking about how train the next dog to do the same tasks, and what breeds/temperaments would be best suited to that, would be a great idea. While it won't help in a lot of environments and situations, it might make things a little bit easier on you (and Briggs, to have slightly more freedom) to play in the yard, the park, the farm, etc - in safe situations.
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Old 05-03-2013, 10:40 AM
Saeleofu Saeleofu is offline
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You might look into a skilled companion dog from a reputable program. These are trained pet dogs that have some tasks on them to help out at home. They're generally a good choice for kids.
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